The 2016 BOFRA season opened in traditional style at the Sedbergh Gala Fell Race. The doom-mongers otherwise known as weather reporters promised rain for at least part of the day. They were right but the rain disappeared and the sun shone during all the races, giving competitors and spectators a glorious day out.
The mixed weather of the previous few days ensured that the course was firm but not too hard, leading to almost perfect fell running conditions: firm ground, sunshine and a breeze to cool the runners as they race.
The course itself starts in the show field, crosses Long Lane to a track road, across fields and along rocky, technical footpaths. There is then a sharp left turn to reach the foot of Winder Fell itself. Runners then commence the seemingly endless, calf burning, climb to the summit of Winder, marked by the trig and cairn. Both these are rounded before runners launch themselves into a thigh wrecking long, steep descent back to the show field and welcome finish funnel. The descent is steep enough in parts that bum-sliding is the most efficient form of motion, and this year many runners made use of this mode of descent on the conveniently slippery wet grass.
Despite the weather forecast, and poor weather earlier in the day, 71 seniors and 101 juniors aged from 6 to 16 lined up for their individual races.
The senior race winner was Barlick Fell Runners Jimmy Craig (19.53) followed by Helm Hill’s Tom Addison (20.15) and 3rd place was taken by Wharfedale Harriers’ Jonny Bradshaw(21.06). First lady was Howgill Harriers’ Heidi Dent (22.30) with Wharfedale’s Kirsty Hall 2nd (23.43) and 3rd lady home was Howgill Harriers’ Nina Walkingshaw (25.41).
The U17 race follows a similar course to the senior race but turns about half way up Winder, returning via the same route. This year’s winner was Keighley and Craven’s Joe Hudson (13.09). 2nd and 3rd boys were Reuben Copley of Dallam (13.40) and Wharfedale’s Adam Gibson (14.05).
First girl was last year’s U12 champ, Briony Holt of Clayton le Moors (15.24). 2nd girl home was Kendal’s Abbie Allan (15.59) and 3rd girl was Wharfedale’s Emily Jones (17.09).
The U14 race is shorter than the U17 but is no less competitive. This year is marked by the inclusion of some extremely good young fell runners, any one of whom could win the race on any given day. The winner was local boy Fraser Sproul (11.47), continuing his impressive form on the fells. 2nd and 3rd boys were Keighley and Craven’s Louis Hudson (11.57) and Settle Harriers’ Thomas Marshall (12.13).
First girl was Wharfedale’s Alice Jones (14.07). 2nd and 3rd girls were Lauryn Gregg of Rossendale Harriers (14.11) and Helm Hill’s Lottie Beardwood (14.48).
The U12 race might be the shortest race of the day but it is possibly the most furious race of the series. Sibling rivalry is alive and very healthy in the form of Ambleside’s James and Harry Bowen, both occupying the podium for this race. 1st was James Bowen (7.16), 2nd Helm Hill’s Henry Hunter (7.24) and 3rd was James’ twin brother Harry (7.35). The first girl to charge across the finish field was Houghton Harriers Amy Leonard (8.24), followed by Ella Dorrington of Clayton le Moors (8.25) and Broughton runners’ Emily Swarbrick (8.28).